Tennesseans Have Access to Free Online Resources to Support Early Literacy

Monday, March 20, 2023 | 11:57am


Highlighting New Literacy Resources and Exemplary Reading 360 Districts


Nashville, TN – To continue the celebration of March Literacy Month, the Tennessee Department of Education released new online resources to support Tennessee teachers and families in developing reading skills for early learners. Additionally, the department is highlighting the remarkable work happening around the Reading 360 model districts who are working to improve literacy rates across the state.

Throughout this month, which Governor Bill Lee proclaimed as Tennessee Literacy Month, the department is highlighting how reading is for all students. Using the hashtag #TNReadingForALL and #ReadLikeRiley, Tennesseans can engage on social media throughout the month to learn about at-home resources, engage in why they support literacy, and learn about why Riley the Reading Raccoon loves reading. 

“I am thrilled to continue celebrating March Literacy Month and highlight the new valuable resources on Best for All Central that support our dedicated teachers and families in developing strong reading skills for students across Tennessee,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “With our continued commitment to the Reading 360 initiative, Tennessee has an amazing opportunity to exemplify how strategic, educational investments pay off and help connect deep teacher professional learning with student academic achievement.”

The Foundational Skills Navigator is a supplemental resource to the Tennessee Foundational Skills Curriculum designed to provide instructional leaders and teachers with easy access to Tennessee Foundational Skills Resources organized by unit, week, and day. Resources include lesson plans, supplemental materials to help progress students, and video demonstrations from our Reading 360 Model Districts. 

Additionally, the Pre-K to Kindergarten Transition Resources for Families provides simple strategies families can use at home to help advance their child’s reading skills with easy tips, helpful links, fun games, and more that support their children’s early learning and helps prepare them for the classroom. These at-home resources include:

  • Examples of sounds first games that families can play at home, in the car, or at the store.
  • Resources for requesting free books.
  • Strategies for making the most out of story time at home.

“I know how important early learning is in a child’s education,” said a Memphis-Shelby County Schools Elementary School Teacher, Pre-K & K Mother. “These resources are so helpful in breaking down the ways I can support my preschooler into simple, actionable steps. The ready-made activities are easy to use, and there are a lot of engaging ideas for my 4-year-old. It is helpful to have the videos that model strategies so I can see how it all comes together.”

Since the launch in 2021, Reading 360 has transformed the way Tennessee addresses literacy proficiency by focusing on all stakeholders in the state. Districts and schools, community partners, legislators, and families all have a role to play. Districts across the state have committed to improving literacy rates through implementing high-quality instruction and foundational skills and opting into regional networks.

Districts like Milan Special School District, Lenoir City Schools and Murfreesboro City Schools have established themselves as a statewide leaders in early literacy instruction. Milan Special School District was awarded a Model Early Literacy District grant from the department and featured in the 74. Lenoir City Schools has been a trailblazer in high-quality materials, a mentor district for the department’s literacy implementation network. 

Additionally, Murfreesboro City Schools is a leader in both early literacy and in English language arts (ELA) instruction. They have been featured in multiple state visits, the 74, and recently hosted state leaders from all over the country in a Council of State School Officers (CCSSO) school visit. These three districts are exemplary models ensuring all students are engaged in grade-level literacy experiences every day.

“Murfreesboro City Schools is committed to raising literacy rates to guarantee every student is prepared for success,” said Trey Duke, Director of Schools, Murfreesboro City Schools. “This work begins with ensuring there is a highly-trained and supported teacher in every classroom. The Reading 360 program has provided MCS with the supports we need to make this work possible, and we are so thankful for the state’s partnership with us in achieving our goals for our students.”

“The Milan Special School District has implemented the Reading 360 initiative offered by the TDOE over the past two years. This intense redesign, including the two-week foundational skills training, vendor implementation support, and knowledge-building curriculum implementation, has increased student achievement, as measured by AimsWeb,” said Jonathan Criswell, Director of Schools, Milan Special School District. “MSSD has been featured as a model school district in making our students proficient readers utilizing the support provided by the state department of education.”

Additional resources for families can be accessed on Best for All Central at Family Resources and Literacy Resources for Families. To access additional resources on Reading 360, click here.